Solskjaer explains changes
Manchester United battled to a 2-1 victory over Fulham last night at Craven Cottage despite going 1-0 down after an Ademola Lookman opener. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named a refreshed squad which had a number of players that had not started such as Mason Greenwood, Edinson Cavani and Eric Bailly.
The Swedish defender Victor Lindelöf was not included in the matchday squad whatsoever and fears over another possible injury grew from his absence. However, speaking after the game the Norwegian coach tempered fears that his side would be without the former Benfica defender for too long.
“He’s not bad, it’s still his back we’ve got a few issues with, I felt it was better he stayed home, trained a bit and can be ready for the weekend,” Solskjaer said.
SINGAPORE – JULY 20: Victor Lindelof of Manchester United applauds fans after being substituted during the 2019 International Champions Cup match between Manchester United and FC Internazionale at the Singapore National Stadium on July 20, 2019 in Singapore. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/International Champions Cup/Getty Images)
The defence has been an area of the pitch of much change over the time that Solskjaer has been in charge, with a number of options in the left back department and also the central defensive area. Harry Maguire, Lindelöf, Bailly and Tuanzebe are all options. Luke Shaw, Alex Telles and Brandon Williams provide options on the left so keeping players fresh is easily possible.
The need to give players opportunity for rest was the reason as to why Marcus Rashford did not start the match against Fulham and instead came on in the second half.
“We want to freshen things up,” he said regarding Rashford’s omission. “All three will have an impact tonight, they’ve been in good form, we’re waiting for Mason to kick on and Eric and Edi have been playing really well.”
Praise for Pogba
Despite the huge questions around Paul Pogba and his future, the French international has kicked on with his club career and has turned a corner for Manchester United. He scored once again to give his side the lead and ultimately the victory at Craven Cottage and Solskjaer was full of praise for his midfield talisman.
“Paul’s enjoying his football, he’s mentally very happy, he’s physically in very good shape and we know all about his talent,” Solskjaer said. “I scored a couple of decent left-foot goals in my day but not one that good, not one from 25 yards into the top corner. It was a great goal.
“We’ve always said Paul Pogba can do everything, he can play wide, in central midfield, create chances and score goals. He’s really come on. The key was getting him match fit. Today he was in midfield and he was so committed and got tackles in as well as his goal.”
BURNLEY, ENGLAND – JANUARY 12: Paul Pogba of Manchester United celebrates scoring a goal to make the score 0-1 during the Premier League match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor on January 12, 2021 in Burnley, United Kingdom. Sporting stadiums around England remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)
Before the opening of the January window, Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola had gone on record with the Italian media stating that the Frenchman’s time at the club was over and that he would soon be looking to move on.
“There’s no point beating about the bush. It’s better to speak out clearly, look forward and avoid wasting time to find culprits. Paul is unhappy at Man Utd, he can’t manage to express himself like he wants to and like people expect him to,” he said.
“He needs to change team, he needs a change of scenery. He has a contract that will expire in a year and a half, in the summer of 2022, but the best solution for all parties is a transfer in the next window.”
If the Frenchman’s form continues in this vein, could he be convinced to remain at Old Trafford?